Modern Mob Mentality

The nation is on fire, or at least it was after looting erupted near and intermingled with protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I haven’t written anything in a while, but have been pretty much consumed with these events, so I have plenty to say about them. In my less-than-typical manner, I’m going to get some bullet points out of the way without going into detail or nuance, just to get these ideas out here before I get to the real topic of this post, the mob mentality that is alive and well in the United States.

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Sad days

[Edit: I’m sure this is rough. I didn’t proofread it before publishing. It’s not supposed to be for anybody else’s consumption anyway. Perhaps I’ll go back and fix it, but if this note is still here, that hasn’t happened yet. For now it’s just a first draft, and a hope at some relief that never seems to come.]

The last week has been full of sadness. We’ve had stories of people dying at the hands of what seem to be poorly trained police officers (although I’m the first to admit that I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a cop), and just last night, at an overwhelmingly peaceful protest about those deaths, madmen struck and shot and killed police officers. Officers who were not involved in any of these horrible stories (and even if they were, it wouldn’t justify killing them), officers who were clearly part of the community, and who were there to help the protesters exercise their first amendment right to assemble. There seemed to be no animosity between the protesters and the police. I’m not sure why that matters to me, but I think it makes it especially sad that the shooting happened there, in a place, Dallas, that has a reputation for making it work, and making it work well.

I try to keep emotion out of this blog, in fact, that’s kind of the rule here, but I’m not sure I can keep it out of this one, and it’s my blog…really my diary, so I can break the rules when I want.

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Please stop confusing explaining and justifying

People come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of likes and dislikes. Some people (and I’m certainly one of them) like to try to figure out how stuff works. That desire is certainly what led me to be a scientist, and to make a career out of trying to figure out how stuff works. For me, part of this is that I look around and see what appears to be very disorderly world. A bird’s eye view of a city shows people going in all kinds of directions, moving in different ways from here to there, and it looks like chaos. But pull any of those individuals aside, and ask what they’re doing, where they’re going, and they’ll have a story to tell and a reason (maybe not always a good one) that they’re doing what they’re doing. When those individual reasons are all known, the world seems, and feels (to me) more orderly and less chaotic. I crave order in things. That’s just who I am.

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